Bush Campaign Lies
Monday, March 29, 2004
This is item #4 in the 'Kerry Flip-Flops' showcase. And it is a lie: Kerry very clearly opposed the first Gulf War. However, in this case, the misleading statements come not from the Bush campaign, but from Kerry himself.
In early 1991, Kerry's office apparently sent two letters to the same constituent. From The New Republic, here are relevant excerpts of each:
"Thank you for contacting me to express your opposition ... to the early use of military force by the US against Iraq. I share your concerns. On January 11, I voted in favor of a resolution that would have insisted that economic sanctions be given more time to work and against a resolution giving the president the immediate authority to go to war."
"Thank you very much for contacting me to express your support for the actions of President Bush in response to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. From the outset of the invasion, I have strongly and unequivocally supported President Bush's response to the crisis and the policy goals he has established with our military deployment in the Persian Gulf."A casual reader might conclude that these two letters, dated nine days apart, exhibit a true flip-flop on the first Gulf War. Read them more closely. In the first letter, Kerry states that he wanted to give sanctions more time to work, and that he voted against giving Pappa Bush immediate authority to go to war. All perfectly true. The second letter doesn't contradict either of these facts. Instead, he says that he supports the goals of the invasion rather than the invasion itself, and that he supported Bush's response to the crisis 'from the outset of the invasion'. The day before the war started, Kerry pledged that he would back the president 'the moment [the war] begins', and this letter simply confirms his statement. See lie 46.
So, when he thought a constituent was anti-war, he emphasized his opposition to the war. And when he thought a constituent supported the war, he discussed how he supported the President when troops were on the ground, and the goals the invasion was meant to achieve. A flip-flop? No. But disingenuous? Yes. So much so that a reasonable person might truly believe that Kerry had flipped. So this one gets scored as a flip-flop for the Bush folks, and doesn't get counted as a lie against them, since it was Kerry, not Bush, doing the dissembling this time.
Matthew Yglesias points out that Kerry is not the only politician to try to be all things to all constituents.